Macro-Economic Policy Questions:
(a)International trade and development
(b)International financial system and development
(c)External debt sustainability and development
(d)Promotion of international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows and strengthen good practices on assets return to foster sustainable development
(e)Promoting investments for sustainable development
Wednesday - 7 October 2020


Dear Colleagues,

Yesterday, in my general statement, I outlined our views on the emerging response to the crisis triggered by the COVID pandemic and the steps required to build the "economy of the future" and respond to the challenges of recovering from the current crisis, the climate threat and the achievement of the SDGs.

Today, I would like to address two issues that are essential components of a strategy to build an equitable global economy - illicit financial flows and investment in sustainable infrastructure.

Mr. Chairman,

The Panel on Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity established earlier this year by the former Presidents of the GA and ECOSOC submitted its interim Report two weeks ago. The figures presented in the report are shocking. Each year, billions of dollars flow out of the developing countries in illicit financial flows.

One trillion dollars is taken out each year by criminals. Twenty to forty billion dollars is in the form of bribes received by the corrupt. Seven trillion dollars in stolen assets is parked in "haven" countries. Five to six hundred billion dollars is lost each year in tax avoidance by multinational companies.

These flows stifle economic growth in the developing countries and condemn their poor population to a life of inequality and indignity.

This bleeding of the poorer countries must stop.

We must have a robust mechanism for the return of stolen assets of developing countries.

Destination countries need to punish the enablers of illicit finances and eliminate "safe haven" for such money.

A fair and equitable tax regime with minimum corporate tax is essential for combating profit shifting by multinational corporations and tax evasion and avoidance.

Revenues from digital transactions should be taxed where the revenues are generated, not elsewhere.

Unequal investment treaties should be discarded or revised and a fair system set up for adjudication of investment disputes.

The measures implemented by governments in the context of COVID-19 should be immune from any claims against them by companies and corporations.

Bodies set up to monitor illicit financial flows should not be used for financial or political coercion of developing countries.

A UN mechanism needs to be established to oversee and coordinate the work of the various official and private bodies which deal with illicit financial flows.

Mr. Chairman,

If we are to 'Build Back Better' and build the "economy of the future", we need to ensure accelerated investment in sustainable and resilient infrastructures.

The 2016 report of the Business and Sustainable Commission observed, "There is no single type of investment [more essential] for achievement of the SDGs than [sustainable] infrastructure".

Upto 92 percent of all SDG targets are influenced by both network and non-network infrastructures.

We need to mobilize an additional $1.5 trillion investment annually for the developing countries in sustainable infrastructures. There is vast amount of finance in the markets, earning negative interest rates. This would be more productively utilized for investment in sustainable infrastructure. Likewise, official development assistance can be used more effectively in infrastructure building.

In ECOSOC, I have proposed the establishment of an infrastructure investment facility as a public private partnership, to accelerate sustainable infrastructure investment in the developing countries.

The facility could serve two essential objectives:

The proposal for the Facility is under discussion with relevant UN bodies, the private sector, interested donor countries as well as developing country representatives.

I look forward to a more in-depth discussion of the proposal when the Second Committee holds a joint meeting with ECOSOC in the next few days.

I thank you.